#OTD in 1854, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton died in Washington DC at the age of 97. Over the course of her long life, Eliza raised eight children, took in orphaned children, and co-founded the first private orphanage in NYC.
Eliza was a gifted needle-worker and an avid traveler. Starting in her 60s and through her 90s, Eliza traveled from her home in NYC to places like Mount Vernon, Oswego, and Wisconsin. She eventually moved to Washington DC with her daughter, Eliza, where she lived until her death.
Eliza's son, James, who was with her when she died, wrote a letter to his aunt Caty, Eliza's only surviving sibling, with the news that "My dear mother finished her course here this morning at about 4 Oclock." He told Caty that her sister "passed off without a struggle."
Perhaps most importantly to historians, Eliza gathered Hamilton's letters & papers, and worked tirelessly to get a biography on him written. After decades of trying to find a biographer, her son, John Church Hamilton, agreed to write it. Far too close to her subject, Eliza was not a perfect historian. She removed documentation that cast her husband in any sort of negative light, including nearly all mentions of slavery in the Hamilton family from history.
Yet what little she left behind on these subjects allows current historians to now tell the narrative she tried to erase. Without Eliza, Hamilton scholarship would not exist. Her efforts have made possible all Hamilton biographies, many Hamilton-related historical fiction books, the hit Broadway musical, and our own Hamilton tour.
Her children buried Eliza next to her husband in Trinity Church Yard in Manhattan. After fifty long years of working to preserve his legacy, Eliza was finally reunited with her Hamilton. Today we remember Eliza as the keeper of not only Hamilton's legacy, but also her own. Thank you, Eliza, for telling your story.